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Country Discussion Topics
To add your comments to this topic, click on one of the 'Reply' links below.

What would you do?
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Tom A    Posted 09-07-2001 at 08:54:41       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Heirs to the farm next door broke it up into 20-30 acre lots and sold them off. The guy with the lot adjoining my little place is a developer (from the city) who is building his own place. He built as close to our property line as zoning would allow (about 35').

He or his crew tore out a good stretch of my barbed wire fence (maybe 100 or 200') between the properties, apparently so they could install utilities and maybe septic drainfield. The fence is at least 2 feet on my side of the line. It is rather old, in places is overgrown, and needs repair, but it did serve to keep animals in, in what is an occasional pasture.

I wandered over one morning to talk to him, but only his crew was around...said they'd let him know I was asking about it. I haven't heard anything.

So, just curious, do I: ignore it, fix the fence and hate him silently forever; let the goats loose to eat his professional landscaping when it's done; call a lawyer; or set up a hog pen right against the property line?

Greg D.    Posted 09-08-2001 at 09:25:36       [Reply]  [Send Email]

PICTURES,PICTURES,PICTURES!!!!!!!!!!!! Take all you can of everything you feel has been damaged. There are legal advice groups that will set up a set time discussion in a particular subject with a lawyer for a very small cost to you.
A developer was in the process os selling a large piece of land next to us about 5 years ago. He asked if he could run power poles to continue from our existing last pole to the land he was selling. In exchange he would "allow" us to continue to use the road we had been using to get to our place for the last 10 or so years. I contacted a legal advice group that put me in touch with a lawyer that specializes in property law. I explained this to him and he laughed and asked if I wanted to own the road this jerk was trying to negoitate with.
Adverse Possesion is something we looked into also. You must use the piece of land in question in plane view, you must either have items stored on the land or have somethng on it in view of God and everyone. The law probably varies from state to state, so check it.
Finally, I HATE lawyers as much as the next person, unfortunately, we are living in a world that requires we use them to get things done legally. GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!

mycus    Posted 11-02-2006 at 16:09:50       [Reply]  [Send Email]
We have been living at my Mother In Law's Property for 22Years and have built a house on the property. Mother In Law died 09-10-04. Have been sue my Sister Inlaw to move the house or give it to the estate in the Master Commissioner Sale. Can we claim Adverse Possesion? We also already own 1/2half of the land, because we have a general warrenty deed. There is 15 Brother and Sisters?

matt    Posted 05-03-2002 at 07:01:27       [Reply]  [Send Email]
You will need to talk to a lawyer and make sure this situation is fixed. Make sure this case is settled out of court or you could be roped into it for years. We had a slightly different case that is still in court, it started in May of 97. Take pictures already and make sure you get a lawyers insite. Hope I helped.

Spence    Posted 09-08-2001 at 07:04:14       [Reply]  [No Email]
I call it urban creep. Speculators don't care
about zonages. All they want to know is if it restricts them from severing the property. After they create the situation, they're "outta there".

I would be concerned about the people sharing your property line and where they will be building their house and outbuildings. Around here they're has to be 300' between any potable water source and source of pollution.

I think you have some legal recourse on the issue of tearing down your fence. They would have had to send you a registered letter to that effect
and allowed you time to respond. Anyway, I'm sure they're bound to rebuild it. You did the right thing in trying to settle it out of court, but
always gather proof or witnesses. In this case a registered letter reminding them you expect them to rebuild. You can get the owner's name thru the county office. Deal with the owner, not the contractor.

Usually the county will post amendments to
bylaws in the newspapers before action is taken on a property giving the new lot plans so people can voice objections before it happens. It's always a good idea to scan the editorials to see the county postings to see what is being proposed.

I agree with you, you should make your activities more visual. Put up a hog pen now while
they don't have any interest in you. (Actually if you did it the legal way, ie: thru a building permit, that will tell you your standing with the county). Put that manure pile or new hen house in a visual place and get the word out you don't like the situation. Get to know people that will support you just incase and keep an eye out what your nearest neighbor is doing. With 30 acres each, they have a lot of room to site the house and outbuildings and still remain within regulations.

Good Luck

rhudson    Posted 09-07-2001 at 15:42:45       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hi Tom, I feel for you. first you have to decide if you are willing to see this thing through. if so, you have to remember you are dealing with a prediator,,,, lets call it a snake. if that offends any developers (i quess there might be an honest one somewhere) well sorry. if he is a developer he is use to taking advantage of others property and bulling his way through things like this. ( do you really think his men don't know when they are destroying others property) he's probably been in court dozens of times or more. and remember he is not building a home, he's building a house. when price is right he's gone. the right thing to do is to talk to him (it will not do any good) but you want to do whats right. then send the registered letter (it will not do any good). then you get to decide if you can afford a lawyer that's not in his pocket. Don't trust a local surveyor to survey the line (how many times will you hire a surveyor vs him hiring a surveyor). if you are going to protect your property then do it and that means taking pocession of it with a fence (know where the correct line is and be up on adverse pocession laws in your area and state)

i hope i'm wrong (i guess there has to be an honest developer out there somewhere) but not my experience. post back if i'm wrong. and remember you are dealing with a prediator,,, lets call it a snake, so don't be surprised when it snaps at you.

LarryAJ - legal issues?    Posted 09-07-2001 at 13:10:09       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I have been told that here in Virginia, there are certian counties where the boundary fence IS the property line. REGARDLESS of what the surveyor puts on some piece of paper that he files in the courthouse. It is a matter of LAW, and one you need to check on with someone like the county assessors office. This is not common knowledge and I only heard of it by accident. I was so intregued I looked it up in the state code at the library. In VA it is under the "fence laws" section(s). Even there it is not all that clear, but I suspect that it has it's roots in the unwrtten "English Common Law" that all our laws are based on, and thus has a long history of "precedent" which supports it legality.

NOW, if the fence is NOT the bondary, then if he built right at the zoning limit, he is now in VOILATION of the set back. You have him in a corner! Oh, I should add, that even here in VA, you can "sue" to restablish the lines when they have been shifted over the years due to whatever reason. So you may want to know your status before you make a big fusss. This will be a LOT like playing poker where you wouldn't make a BIG bet on a pair of aces, and gleefuly show your hand before he placed his bet, only to learn that he had three duces.

Knowledge that he does not know is to your advantage and you should save it until you need it. Less likely that he can then counteract it. So be EXCATLY sure what your LEGAL status is! it may be worth a lawers fee to know. Be sure to get a lawyer that deals with property law extensively, don't take just anyone, they all will think the can do it but you need someone well familar with the nic picking details. ONLY when you know without a doubt what your LEGAL rights are, would I then decide a course of action.

Me, I lean towards the give him ALL the chance in the world to make it right, he may be a really nice guy and good neighbor (even if he is a developer). After all, it was the heirs that broke the farm up, not him. But he should be given the chance to show his "TRUE colors" before you "write him off!".

Please repost back here to the board what you learn. Then maybe you can get some additional suggestions as to what to do.

My $0.02

PatM    Posted 09-07-2001 at 11:08:43       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Beware of "adverse possesion" if the fence is really 2'+ inside your property line! If it's been there a long time it may be lost property.

If I were you I would:

1. Have your property surveyed and staked. (This should have been done when the land was subdivided, and there should be "pins" at the corners, use these pins.)
2. Send a registered, return receipt requested letter asking that the fence be rebuilt on the property line. Give a reasonable deadline for completion, say 30 days after receipt of your letter.
3. If he doesn't respond and/or rebuild the fence by your deadline, rebuild the fence where it belongs, and send him a bill for material and labor. Like Franz said, this can be established by quotes from a local fencing contractor, or actual cost of material and a reasonable labor rate (about $25-$30 per manhour when you include taxes, insurance and overhead).
4. If you get to number 3, be prepared to go to small claims court and wait till heck is cold to get your money. You might be able to file a mechanics lien against his property if he doesn't pay.

Most places I've lived have a custom (which may be law) that fence maintenance is shared by the adjoining owners. You stand at the middle of the fence facing the neighbor and maintain that half of the fence to your right.

BB    Posted 09-07-2001 at 10:15:49       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Like it or not, he will be your neighbor. Don't judge him until you meet him. Explain the situation and that you would expect your fence to be repaired. Don't start throwing out threats. That will only lead to a bad neighbor forever. Most people are nice given the chance. He will very likely take care of the damage done.

You always have the legal avenues to pursue if all else fails. You can probably settle it in small claims court without the need for a lawyer.

mugsy3    Posted 09-07-2001 at 10:15:15       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Did this guy hire contractors to build for him or are these buddies of his?
I would tell the contractor to rebuild the fence. (That was private property! I can't believe they thought it was ok to tear your fence down!!)
Then go to the landowner and speak to him. He may be unaware that the workers tore down your fence. Tell him he has to see to it that it is rebuilt.(not help pay for it - DO it!) If he doesn't see fit to have it rebuilt, you have found a new location for your manure pile!

Let us know what happens.

Kansas Kid    Posted 09-07-2001 at 09:59:12       [Reply]  [No Email]
I would go talk to him first tell him about the fence that he damaged, maybe he already has plans to help with the cost of rebuilding it. Think about the cost of lawyers vs. rebuilding 100'-200' of fence, thats not much. If he doesn't seem interested in helping with the cost of the new fence, I would buy some hog panels and make my pen so that the wind would blow him some pleasant smells.

mugsy3    Posted 09-07-2001 at 10:18:28       [Reply]  [Send Email]
The neighbor doesn't have to "help" with the cost of rebuilding it. He has to pay for the whole thing and rebuilt it himself too.

Kansas Kid    Posted 09-07-2001 at 14:46:59       [Reply]  [No Email]
In Kansas it is law when you stand on your property with the fence to your right side if your property runs 1/2 mile you put in the first 1/4 and the neighbor puts in the second 1/4. This pertains to all sides of your property except along a road where you do pay for it all. Wouldnt it be kind of silly to tear up someones old fence that he said was not in the best of shape anyway and be expected to replace it all with new materials and out all the labor? All you would need is about 15 T-post which cost $2.05 each and one role of Red Brand barb wire cost $32.00 so for about $75-$100 the problem could be solved with no BS in a court room and how much does a lawyer cost per hour probably about $100.00. So for a hundred dollars you could fix the problem or play like the Hatfields and McCoys for the rest of your life.

len    Posted 03-18-2003 at 20:49:38       [Reply]  [Send Email]
In Kansas, it's not necessarily true when you face a fence you're responsible for the right half. It's all relative to fence cost and maintenance. If you have 1/2 mile of fence. You face it and determine you take care of the 1/4 to your right. What if you have water-gaps on your end and the other end has none? When there is a disagreement the two parties can not resolve themselves the county commissioners have control and make the final decision. If you want all the details there is a law professor at K. State who makes rounds to country extension agents invites to educate landowners.

mugsy3    Posted 09-09-2001 at 06:31:03       [Reply]  [No Email]
I'm not suggesting to feud about it.
What you state is not the law here, maybe in the city but not in the country. The fence is built on the owner's property and owned by that person. The guys that tore up the fence didn't have permission to do so. The condition of the fence doesn't enter into the issue. It was serving a purpose and was used. The person who tore it down has the responsibility to either put the old fence back up or replace with new. I didn't say anything about getting lawyer. I'm saying what should be rightfully done. I believe it can be done peaceably.

Slo    Posted 09-07-2001 at 18:20:34       [Reply]  [No Email]
So which way are you facing when this is decided? I can stand at the fence and touch it with my right hand if I face either way. Please understand, this is not a smart alec question, either.

Where I live, we have 80 acres, I would like to replace the south line fence, and am really really hoping that our half is the open half...

Kansas Kid    Posted 09-08-2001 at 16:21:56       [Reply]  [No Email]
Standing on your property at any corner looking down the fence, with the fence on your right side the first half of the lenght of your property is yours to replace. I also have 80 acres, it is 1/4 mile by a 1/2 mile. It is 1/2 mile east and west and a 1/4 mile laying north and south. So get a piece of paper draw a rectangle with north, south, east, and west sides of my property on it. On the north side of my property I replace the first half of that half mile which is the northeast 1/4. On the west side it is only 1/4 mile wide so I replace the first 1/8 which is the northwest 1/8. On the south side I replace the first half of that half mile which is the southwest 1/4. And on the east side of my place is the road so I get to do all of the 1/4 mile. Let me know if this helps or not.

Slo    Posted 09-08-2001 at 17:15:18       [Reply]  [No Email]
Thanks! That is a big help.

Just what I was afraid of, I get the half in the woods on the south and east side, and the worst half on the north side as well.

Mudcat49    Posted 09-07-2001 at 09:45:11       [Reply]  [No Email]
If you just told his employees about it chances are that they didn't tell him. I would make every effort to contact him before I did anything else.
That way you have covered your a$$. Keep a record of trying to contact him, and if you can't any other way send him a return requested letter. If he ignors you then you have him by the ball$.

Franz    Posted 09-07-2001 at 09:28:44       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Replace the fence, and send him a bill for a fair price for doing it. Determine the fair price by calling a local fencing company, and get a quote.
If he ignores it, and don't pay within 90 days, sue his a$$ in small claims court, and point out to the judge that you are suing under the account stated provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code. There is no defense he can put up that way, he got the bill, and accepted it as legitimate. Just to put icing on the cake, when you send the bill, get a certificate of mailing from the Post office, it costs les than a buck, and provides proof you sent the mail, just like a certified letter, but without aletrting the receiver.
He already told you what he thinks of you, and your property, be prepared, I hope you live in a right to farm state. This guy's gonna be a nightmare.

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